What's All This Panda and Penguin Stuff?

If you've been interested in better Google rankings, chances are you've heard of Panda and Penguin. You're asking yourself what in the world do these two cute animals have to do with Internet Marketing and Search Engine Optimization.

Well, turns out Panda's and Penguin's have a huge impact on web marketing. Before I explain, let me lay a little foundation.

Google has always used a complex search algorithm to evaluate a web site's relevancy in respect to search terms. In the early days it was easy. Pretty much just the number of key words on a site. But that was too easy to fool, as the spammers soon learned. 

Keep in mind though, Google's product is the "search result". The quality of their search result is very important. If you get nothing but spammy sites returned from a search, you'd soon stop using that search engine. So, in order to provide the highest quality results, Google has always had to manipulate their algorithm to stay ahead of the spammers. As Google got more sophisticated, so did the spammers. New, legitimate SEO companies appeared on the scene to provide "white hat" SEO techniques that were effective and legal (with Google). But soon good SEO companies figured out how to use "proper" SEO techniques to their advantage. The system became gamed.

February 2011 was the month everything changed. Google introduced its new algorithm named "Panda" and it hit the SEO world like an earthquake. Many of the "allowable" SEO techniques were now penalized. Duplicate content and key word stuffing became a huge "no-no" overnight. Sites that ranked well, dropped precipitously. It was bad for traditional SEO service providers. 

But keep in mind why Google did this. They need to keep their search result quality high. Sites that had tons of duplicate content, or used lots of key words were most likely trying to game the system and were turning out not be very "authoritative" or relevant.

Then in April 2012 Google shot out a new update, this time named Penguin. The goal was the same - to root out sites that were gaming the system. This time the primary culprit were "backlinks", which are links from other sites to yours. The strategy before Penguin was that if highly relevant sites linked to you, then your site must be relevant too and it would goose your rankings. But backlinks were being abused by spammers and some devious SEO organization. To correct this, Google released Penguin which processed the quality and source of back-links and penalized sites who abused them.

Panda and Penguin together were the tsunami of change in the SEO world. Their implementation refocussed SEO on quality and meaningful content rather than tactics that manipulated content. Today, a quality content marketing plan and process trumps everything else when it comes to organic SEO. Don't be fooled by those shady emails in your inbox promising first page Google search results. Keep in mind that there really isn't any magic bullet to SEO other than fresh, frequent and quality content.